News / Asia

China Puts Former Security Chief Under House Arrest

FILE - Then China's Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang.
FILE - Then China's Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang.
Reuters
China has put Zhou Yongkang, one of the most powerful politicians of the last decade, under virtual house arrest while the ruling Communist Party investigates accusations of corruption against him, several sources said on Wednesday.

Zhou is the most senior official to be ensnared in a graft scandal since the Communists came to power in 1949. He was the domestic security tsar and a member of the party's Politburo Standing Committee - the pinnacle of power in the country - when he retired last year.

Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered a special task force formed in late November or early December to look into several  accusations brought against Zhou by political rivals, sources with ties to the leadership told Reuters, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions for discussing secretive elite politics.

“Zhou Yongkang's freedom has been restricted. His movements have been monitored,” one source said, adding that he cannot leave his Beijing home or receive guests with prior approval.

Zhou is being investigated for violating party discipline, official jargon for corruption, the sources said. They did not say what the specific allegations were.

Xi was installed as head of the party just over a year ago, and as president in March, and the investigation illustrates his growing power and confidence that he can manage any rift that may ensue.

In ordering the investigation, Xi has broken with an unwritten understanding that members of the Standing Committee will not be investigated after retirement.

But Xi has yet to decide whether Zhou would be publicly prosecuted, pending completion of the internal probe, the sources said. Xi has declared war on corruption, vowing to go after powerful “tigers” like Zhou as well as lowly “flies”.

“Xi has pulled out all the tiger's teeth,” a second source said, referring to the downfall of Zhou's men, including Jiang Jiemin, who was the top regulator of state-owned enterprises for just five months until September when state media said he was put under investigation for “serious discipline violations”.

Jiang was previously chairman of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) - Zhou Yongkang's power base - as well as one of its subsidiaries, oil-and-gas behemoth PetroChina . Zhou served as CNPC's general manager from 1996-1998, having risen through the ranks.

“Zhou Yongkang is a toothless tiger and tantamount to a dead tiger. The question is: will Xi skin the tiger?” the source said, referring to a trial.

Political analysts say such an indictment and a trial would instill fear in other retired leaders and the party's 80 million members, worsening infighting among rival political factions.

Jonathan Fenby, director of China research at analyst group Trusted Sources, said any form of public trial of Zhou would be “potential for embarrassment ... given his long tenure at the top”.

The Chinese government has neither confirmed nor denied Chinese-language media reports in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States that Zhou has been arrested on charges of corruption and other crimes.

Zhou and his family could not be reached for comment. It is not clear if they have lawyers.

The cabinet spokesman's office, which doubles as the party's public affairs office, did not respond to a request for comment.

Linked to Bo Xilai

Zhou was a patron of the once high-flying politician Bo Xilai, who was jailed for life in September for corruption and abuse of power - the worst political scandal since the 1976 downfall of the Gang of Four at the end of the Cultural Revolution.

“Xi Jinping and [Premier] Li Keqiang hate Zhou Yongkang as he was the only standing committee member who opposed ousting Bo Xilai. They are gunning for Zhou,” said a source who has ties to the military.

Bo's career was stopped short last year by the attempted defection of his estranged police chief who implicated Bo's wife in the murder of a British businessman over a business dispute. Bo's wife and his former police chief have been convicted and jailed.

“Zhou's men have been sidelined,” another source said.

“The Central Commission of Political Science and Law has been cleansed of Zhou's men,” the source said, referring to the powerful party body once headed by Zhou that oversees the police force, the civilian intelligence apparatus, judges, prosecutors and paramilitary police.

The movements of Zhou's eldest son, Zhou Bin, have also been restricted while he helps with the corruption investigation that has implicated Jiang, the regulator of state-owned enterprises.

The elder Zhou retired as domestic security tsar and from the standing committee during a sweeping leadership reshuffle last year. During his five-year watch, government spending on domestic security exceeded the defense budget.

He was last seen at an alumni celebration at the China University of Petroleum on Oct. 1.

He was also among party leaders who offered condolences or sent flowers to the family of a respected educator who died last month, state media reported on Nov. 26.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper reported in late August that the leadership had agreed to open a corruption investigation into Zhou.

But sources with ties to the leadership told Reuters at the time that Zhou was merely helping authorities with the investigation into state energy companies and, contrary to media reports, was not the target then.

That changed after Xi ruled that no one was above the law.

Zhao Hongzhu, one of the party's top anti-corruption officials, declared in October that anyone who violated party discipline or broke the law would be punished “regardless of who it involved, how much power he has or how high his position is.”

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Resolve Nuclear Deal Issues

Leaders find resolution on issues of liability of suppliers to India in event of nuclear accident, US demands to track whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid